Bally’s Corp Faces Credit Cutback But Remains Resolute in Casino Expansions

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Bally’s Corporation, a casino titan hailing from Rhode Island, underwent its third credit rating cutback this week when Fitch Ratings scaled down its anticipation for the firm. Its rating plummeted from “B+” to a grimmer “B.” Notoriously, anything below “BB” is regarded as non-investment grade, casting a daunting cloud over the company’s prospects. Bally’s now stands on the financial precipice, staring at a looming chasm of uncertainty and grappling with the complexities of its troubled finances.

Despite being ensnared in this fiscal predicament, Bally’s remains resolute in its grand ambition, a mission envisaged at the crossroads of resolve and chance – a daring $1.1 billion casino resort project in the heart of downtown Chicago, at the Freedom Center. Securing a staggering $800 million to underpin the colossal venture, however, remains a formidable hurdle.

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Chicago, however, is not the sole focus of Bally’s expansive gaze. The dynamic company aspires to raise the stakes with a compact casino near the epicenter of academic vigor – Penn State University in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, the corporation has declared an inclination to try its luck in the historic city of Petersburg, Virginia, given the golden opportunity presents itself.

Yet fortune hasn’t always been Bally’s close ally. Fate dealt the corporation an unkind hand in 2021 in the form of the Richmond casino affair. Despite laying an enticing wager, local officials in Virginia’s humming capital left Bally’s overlooked and outplayed. The city’s populace, too, vetoed the broader casino strategy.

Then, in a fascinating twist of fate, the Richmond casino license migrated some 25 miles south, nestling in Petersburg instead. Empowered by recent legislation sanctioned by the Virginia General Assembly, the Petersburg City Council became eligible to entertain proposals for a casino resort. As of now, Governor Glenn Younkin (R) retains the final say and has until 11:59 pm EST on April 8 to seal the city’s fate.

Undeterred by the onslaught of financial degradations, Bally’s confirmed to The Progress-Index that its participation in a possible Petersburg bidding war would remain unhindered. In an email statement, a Bally’s spokesperson affirmed their “world-class casino resort” proposal and expressed optimism for the impending proceedings, recognizing the city and its electorate’s consent as decisive factors in it coming to fruition.

However, Bally’s endeavors in Petersburg might encounter a formidable rival in the form of Maryland’s Cordish Companies. Cordish kindled interest late last year with a tantalizing $1.4 billion development proposal, consisting of a mixed-use casino resort to be erected over a protracted timespan via numerous construction phases.

Virginia’s Governor, Youngkin, is currently reviewing a host of bills, including Senate Bill 628, which aims to endorse Petersburg as a potential host city for a commercial casino. Virginia shelters four other cities where casinos have found home – Norfolk, Portsmouth, Bristol, and Danville. After recent developments involving billionaire Ted Leonsis quashing his Potomac Yard project, it remains to be seen if Youngkin will employ the Petersburg casino bill as leverage to rally support for his own endeavors.